Why Eleanor Hall is taking part in the Pacific Project 2014

By · 19 June, 2014 · Features

I came across the Pacific Project on one of my many procrastinatory rounds of the Internet, and I was immediately intrigued. It must have been fate that our entire discussion that day in history was about the involvement of Australia and the United Nations in Timor, but what really captivated me was the idea of ‘a different kind of travelling’. As I read through the itinerary, and discovered the extent of people and resources I would be able to learn from, and the way in which I could contribute back to the people of Timor-Leste, I realised that this trip would be a chance of a lifetime.

For a long time I’d been wanting to be involved in something that goes beyond my comfort zone, or the bubble of Sydney that I live in. Learning about another culture is something tremendously thrilling to me, and the notion of being able to make a real difference in people’s lives whilst immersing with locals was something really incredible. Applying was a no brainer! I must have drafted about twenty practice responses to the questions about myself because I was convinced that my normal self wasn’t good enough for a trip this amazing. But I realised, and I think leading up to this trip has really consolidated for me the fact that the UN Youth is about finding people who genuinely care. That’s what brought me to the trip and after being accepted and meeting some of the other people who are also coming; I’ve caught a glimpse into an amazing family – the kind of family shows acceptance toward every kind of weird and wonderful person that comes to it (probably the attitude needed a little more in foreign policy). These projects and all activities run by the UN Youth are about young people being interested in the world and its direction, and getting fired up about it. It’s that worldly passion that drives people to become informed and then be actively involved in projects community, national or international– so if you’re thinking of getting involved please do!

Preparing for the trip I’ve tried to do a few things like get my head around a basic version of the language – although relying on Google Translates’ accent might not be the best plan of attack! Really it’s just been learning a lot about the culture and the history of where I’m going, and researching the charities we’ll be working with – such as the Encouragement Foundation. Talking to some of the other students and conveners going has also really helped, and half the excitement is meeting and spending time with all the other wonderful people going to Timor-Leste. My biggest hope about the experience is to not only gain a really authentic understanding about the people of Timor-Leste and the problems they face, but the most effective ways of combating those problems. That knowledge is something I hope to share back home and utilize in my life in further helping communities and bringing a little more good old equality to the world (sorry for the cliché…).

All in all my excitement is currently bouncing off the walls. I still can’t believe that I’m actually going to Timor-Leste and it’s not just some far off dream. It’s still too surreal to spur me into packing, but the countdown on my wall is gathering crosses by the day. Timor-Leste, although so close to Australia’s shores, is something that rarely makes it into our news and I want to change that, get my peers and the people I know enthusiastic about our role in our region – and the first hand knowledge that this trip will provide we give me the means to do that.

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